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Open Letter to Senators to Electronically File Campaign Finance Reports

Open Letter to Senators to Electronically File Campaign Finance Reports

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Published by Sunlight Foundation
Letter from the Sunlight Foundation to Senators urging them to voluntarily file their campaign finance reports electronically with the FEC
Letter from the Sunlight Foundation to Senators urging them to voluntarily file their campaign finance reports electronically with the FEC

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Published by: Sunlight Foundation on Jul 10, 2013
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01/30/2014

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July10,2013
OpenLettertoSenatorsFromtheSunlightFoundation:FileYourCampaignFinanceReportsElectronically
DearSenators:OnMonday,July15,SenatorsandSenatecandidateswillberequiredtofiletheirmandatorycampaignfinancereports,makingdetailsaboutcampaigncontributionsandexpendituresavailabletothepublic.DuetoaloopholeinthelawthattheSenatehasbeenunabletoclose,Senatorsarepermittedtofilereportsonpaper,ratherthanelectronicallywiththeFederalElectionCommission.TheSunlightFoundationiswritingtourgeallSenatorstofileyourcampaignfinancereportsinanelectronicformatwiththeFEC.VolunteeringtoelectronicallyfileyourreportsisasimplestepthatwillmakeyourcampaignfinanceinformationmoretransparentandaccessibletotheAmericanpeople.CandidatesrunningfortheHouse,presidentialcandidatesandotherpoliticalcommitteeshavebeenrequiredtofiletheircampaignfinancereportselectronicallyformanyyears.Thelawrequiresthattheinformationincandidates’campaignfinancereportsbemadeavailabletothepublicsothatvotershavetheabilitytolearnwhoisfundingthecampaignsofthoserunningforfederaloffice.Unfortunately,exemptingSenatorsandSenatecandidatesfrommandatoryelectronicfilinghasresultedindelayeddisclosureofcriticalcampaignfinanceinformation.SenatorsfilereportswiththeSecretaryoftheSenate,whodeliverspapercopiestotheFEC.Thatagencymustthen
manually 
inputthedatafromthousandsofpagesofpaperintodatabasesbeforetheinformationcanbemadepublicinasearchable,usablemanner.Thisprocesscoststaxpayersover$400,000ayear,but,moreimportantly,delaysonlineaccesstoinformation–sometimesuntilaftertheelectionhastakenplace–underminingoneofthekeypurposesofdisclosure.Byvirtueofthefactthatthisis“publicinformation,”campaignfinancedatashouldbemadeavailableimmediately.Thereisnorationaleforthecurrentprocess,whichonlyservestopreventthepublicfromreceivingmeaningfulinformationinatimelymanner.CommonsenselegislationtorequireelectronicfilingbySenatorshasbeenstymied.ButalegalmandateisnotnecessaryinorderforSenatorstoprovidetheircampaignfinanceinformationinelectronicformtotheFEC.Inthefirstquarterofthisyear,

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